Leftfield are a British electronic music duo formed in 1989 as the duo of Neil Barnes and Paul Daley (the latter formerly of the Rivals and A Man Called Adam). The duo was very influential in the evolution of electronic music in the 1990s, with Mixmag describing them as "the single most influential production team working in British dance music".[1] As with many of their contemporaries, such as the Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim, Leftfield are notable for their use of guest vocalists in their works. Among those involved were Toni Halliday on "Original", Johnny Rotten on "Open Up", Djum Djum on "Afro-Left", and Earl 16 and Cheshire Cat on "Release the Pressure". The term progressive house was coined to define their style, a fusion of house with dub and reggae.[2]

Leftfield performing live in 2016: L-R: Adam Wren, Neil Barnes, Nick Rice (from the band Hadouken!)
Leftfield performing live in 2016: L-R: Adam Wren, Neil Barnes, Nick Rice (from the band Hadouken!)
Background information
OriginLondon, England
Years active1989–2002, 2010–present
MembersNeil Barnes
Adam Wren
Past membersPaul Daley

There was a hiatus in recording and live performances between 2002 and 2010. When Barnes revived Leftfield, Daley declined to be involved, in order to focus on his solo career. After touring for a few years, Barnes finished writing new material for a third Leftfield album, Alternative Light Source.


Neil Barnes' music career started off as a DJ at The Wag Club while simultaneously playing percussion on a session basis. In 1986, he joined the London School of Samba and played the bateria in the 1986 Notting Hill Carnival.[3] Around 1989, inspired by Afrika Bambaataa,[4] Barnes decided to try his hand at electronic music production, the results of which were the tracks "Not Forgotten" and "More Than I Know", released on the Rhythm King label.[2] For the remixes of these tracks, Barnes called upon Paul Daley,[5] percussion player with A Man Called Adam and formerly a session musician for the Brand New Heavies and Primal Scream, appearing on their Dixie-Narco EP.[1][4] Barnes and Daley had previously worked together as percussionists at The Sandals first club, Violets.[1][4] Described by Barnes as "[t]he sound of 15 years of frustration coming out in one record", the piece was termed "Progressive House" by Mixmag and held significant prominence in nightclubs from 1991 onwards.[1] As their mutual interest in electronic music became clear the pair decided that they would work instead upon Leftfield, once Barnes had extricated himself from his now troublesome contract with Rhythm King subsidiary, Outer Rhythm.[1][2] The name Leftfield was originally used by Barnes for his first single, with editing/arranging and additional production undertaken by Daley. However, after this, Daley was subsequently involved in remixing "Not Forgotten" and thereafter in the creation of all of Leftfield's work until the band split up in 2002.

During this period, in which the band could not release their own music owing to the legal dispute with Rhythm King, the pair undertook remix work for React 2 Rhythm, I.C.P. (Ice Cool Productions), Supereal, Inner City, Sunscreem, Ultra Naté and provided two remixes to David Bowie's single "Jump They Say". Finally, once the problems with their former label had been sorted out, Leftfield were able to unveil their single "Release the Pressure".[2]



Leftfield's first major career break came with the single "Open Up", a collaboration with John Lydon (of Sex Pistols fame) that was soon followed by their debut album, Leftism in 1995, blending dub, breakbeat, and house.[6] It was shortlisted for the 1995 Mercury Music Prize but lost out to Portishead's Dummy.[7] In a 1998 Q magazine poll, readers voted it the eightieth greatest album of all time, while in 2000 Q placed it at number 34 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever. The album was re-released in 2000 with a bonus disc of remixes, and again in 2017 as a remastered version with eleven completely new remixes.

Rhythm and StealthEdit

Their second album, Rhythm and Stealth (1999) maintained a similar style, and featured Roots Manuva, Afrika Bambaataa, and MC Cheshire Cat from Birmingham. The album was shortlisted for the Mercury Music Prize in 2000 but lost out to Badly Drawn Boy's The Hour of Bewilderbeast. It reached No. 1 in the UK Albums Chart.[8] The album featured the song "Phat Planet" which featured on Guinness' 1999 advert, Surfer,[7] and "6/8 War" featured on the Volkswagen Lupo Advert 'Demon Baby'. The track "Double Flash" featured in the PlayStation software game Music 2000.

Leftfield split in 2002, with both Barnes and Daley planning to work on separate solo projects.[9]

Reformation and Alternative Light SourceEdit

Leftfield headlined Creamfields in Cheshire, England in August 2010, RockNess in Dores, Scotland in June 2010, and played the final set on the main stage at Ireland's three-day festival, Electric Picnic in September. Further headline festival shows were announced in the coming weeks.[10] Leftfield is now represented by Neil Barnes on keyboards and drum programming, with a rotating group of vocalists, MC Cheshire Cat, Adam Wren on engineering and programming and Sebastian 'Bid' Beresford on drums. Founding member Paul Daley declined to rejoin, focusing on his solo DJ career.[11]

On 25 March 2015, the new single, "Universal Everything", was premiered on Annie Mac's BBC Radio 1 show. Shortly afterwards the new album was announced via the Leftfield website and social networks, along with UK tour dates for June 2015.[12]

Alternative Light Source, Leftfield's first album in 16 years, was released on 8 June 2015 on Infectious Records.[13] On 1 June 2015 the album premiere was streamed live on Twitter, coupled with conversation via hashtag #leftfieldstream.[14] "Head and Shoulders" features Sleaford Mods on vocals, and its stop-motion and animation hybrid video debuted on Pitchfork on 6 August 2015.[15]

This Is What We DoEdit

A new album was declared finished by Barnes via Twitter on 4 February 2022,[16] and has since been titled: "This Is What We Do". It was released on 2 December 2022.

Commercial use of tracksEdit

The song "Phat Planet" was used in the "Surfers" TV advertisement for Guinness, ranked number one in Channel 4's Top 100 Adverts list in 2000. "Phat Planet" was also used in the animated television series Beast Machines: Transformers, the simulation racing games F1 2000 by EA Sports and Racedriver GRID by Codemasters. In addition, their song "Release the Pressure" was used on advertisements for the O2 mobile phone network at its launch, and the Kerry Group's Cheestrings snack in 2006. "A Final Hit" was featured on the Trainspotting soundtrack;[7] the b-side "Afro Ride" was also featured on the soundtracks to both wipE'out" and wipE'out" 2097 although it did not appear on the album of the first game.

A white label release called "Snakeblood" was featured on the soundtrack of The Beach (2000). The song was found to have sampled OMD's "Almost" without permission.[17][18]

The song "Storm 3000" has been used as the theme tune for the BBC television programme Dragons' Den.

Live performancesEdit

Djum Djum playing theremin during Afro-Left in December 2010

In Leftfield's Amsterdam show, the Dutch police were close to arresting the venue sound engineers due to the sound system reaching illegal volumes.[citation needed] At the next concert, in Belgium, 30 people were given refunds after complaining that the sound level was too high, leading to a newspaper headline reading "LEFTFIELD TOO LOUD".[citation needed] In June 1996, while the group was playing at Brixton Academy, the sound system caused dust and plaster to fall from the ceiling;[19] subsequently, the group was banned from ever returning to the venue.[19] The ban however was taken by the band as a ban on the sound system and not themselves,[19] which was confirmed when Leftfield returned to Brixton again on Saturday 20 May 2000.

In November and December 2010, Leftfield did a series of dates around the UK and Ireland. Friday 3 December's gig saw more plaster fall from Brixton Academy's ceiling.[20]


Studio albumsEdit

Title Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
  • Released: 30 January 1995
  • Label: Hard Hands
3 160 32 27 6
Rhythm and Stealth 1 4 11 40 33 38 7 3 1 36
Alternative Light Source 6 42 28 74 31 3
This Is What We Do
  • Released: 2 December 2022
  • Label: Virgin Music
18 124
"—" denotes items that did not chart or were not released in that territory.

Compilation albumsEdit

Title Album details Peak chart

(with Djum Djum)
  • Released: December 1992
  • Label: Outer Rhythm/Rhythm King
Stealth Remixes
(remix album)
  • Released: 29 May 2000
  • Label: Hard Hands/Higher Ground
A Final Hit – Greatest Hits
  • Released: 3 October 2005
  • Label: Hard Hands
32 2 30
"—" denotes items that did not chart or were not released in that territory.

Live albumsEdit

Title Album details
  • Released: 13 March 2012
  • Label: Hard Hands


Year Title Peak chart positions Album


1990 "Not Forgotten" Non-album singles
1991 "More Than I Know" 98
1992 "Release the Pressure" (featuring Earl Sixteen) Leftism
"Song of Life" 59 27
1993 "Open Up" (featuring John Lydon) 13 39 5 39
1995 "Original" (featuring Toni Halliday) 18 11 20
"Afro-Left" (featuring Djum Djum) 22 15 30 20
1996 "Release the Pressure '96"
(featuring Earl Sixteen, Cheshire Cat & Papa Dee)
13 5 13 Non-album singles
1999 "Song of Life" (re-issue) 96 34
"Afrika Shox" (featuring Afrika Bambaataa) 7 1 87 23 11 7 Rhythm and Stealth
"Dusted" (featuring Roots Manuva) 28 4 79 31
2000 "Swords" (featuring Nicole Willis)
2015 "Universal Everything" Alternative Light Source
"Bilocation" (featuring Channy Leaneagh)
"Head and Shoulders" (featuring Sleaford Mods)
"Bad Radio" (featuring Tunde Adebimpe)
2022 "Pulse" This Is What We Do
"—" denotes items that did not chart or were not released in that territory.

Soundtracks and various compilationsEdit

"Shallow Grave" (Featuring Christopher Eccleston)
"Release the Dubs"
"Inspection (Check One)"
"Open Up" (featuring John Lydon)
"Afro Ride" (from the EP Afro-Left)
  • From 104.9 (An XFM Compilation)
"A Final Hit"
"A Final Hit" (full-length version)
"Afro Ride" (from the EP Afro-Left)
  • From the Go soundtrack
"Swords" (featuring Nicole Willis) (Original Version)
"Afrika Shox"
"Phat Planet"
"Song of Life"


  1. ^ a b c d e f Frank Tope (February 1995). "Burn Bassbins Burn". Mixmag. 2 (45): 46–50.
  2. ^ a b c d "RELEASE THE PRESSURE!". Melody Maker. 5 December 1992.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 March 2017. Retrieved 3 March 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ a b c "Rave Gauche". New Musical Express. 5 February 1995.
  5. ^ "Gauche in the Machine". New Musical Express. May 1996.
  6. ^ Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 743. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
  7. ^ a b c Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. p. 562. ISBN 1-84195-017-3.
  8. ^ a b c d "UK chart peaks". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  9. ^ "LEFTFIELD SPLIT | NME". NME. 4 March 2002. Retrieved 13 June 2020.
  10. ^ Marszalek, Julian (2 February 2010), Leftfield Reform for Loch Ness, Spinner
  11. ^ "Paul Daley". Leftfieldtour.co.uk. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
  12. ^ "LEFTFIELD ARE LOOKING FOR AN 'ALTERNATIVE LIGHT SOURCE'". Archived from the original on 29 March 2015.
  13. ^ "Leftfield return with Alternative Light Source".
  14. ^ "TONIGHT: Leftfield to live-stream new album". No. Never Enough Notes. Never Enough Notes. 1 June 2015. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  15. ^ "Leftfield and Sleaford Mods share new video for 'Head And Shoulders'". No. Never Enough Notes. Never Enough Notes. 6 August 2015. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  16. ^ Leftfield [@Leftfield] (4 February 2022). "I'm being lazy today. As new Leftfield album is finished …" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  17. ^ Boddy, Paul; Ming Lai, Chi (12 July 2017). "25 Favourite Uses of Classic Synth Samples". Electricity Club. Retrieved 24 November 2021.
  18. ^ "One half of Leftfield, Neil Barnes, tells why he can't wait to give Rockness a blast of the coolest sounds down memory lane". The Scotsman. 25 May 2010. Retrieved 24 November 2021.
  19. ^ a b c "Leftfield – Rhythm and Stealth review". Gareth Grundy. Select magazine. Archived from the original on 9 November 2007. Retrieved 7 November 2007.
  20. ^ "LEFTFIELD – LEFTFIELD TOUR IN MAY: UK dates announced". music3w.com. 7 April 2000. Archived from the original on 1 December 2008. Retrieved 23 June 2008.
  21. ^ a b Australian (ARIA) chart peaks:
    • Top 50 peaks: "Australian chart peaks". australian-charts.com. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
    • Top 100 peaks to December 2010: Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (pdf ed.). Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. p. 163.
  22. ^ "Belgian (Flanders) chart peaks". ultratop.be. Retrieved 25 September 2016.
  23. ^ "French chart peaks". lescharts.com. Retrieved 25 September 2016.
  24. ^ German chart peaks:
  25. ^ "Dutch chart peaks". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 25 September 2016.
  26. ^ a b "New Zealand chart peaks". charts.nz. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  27. ^ a b "Norwegian chart peaks". norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved 25 September 2016.
  28. ^ Scottish studio albums chart peaks:
  29. ^ "Swiss chart peaks". hitparade.ch. Retrieved 25 September 2016.
  30. ^ a b c "BPI Certification". BPI. Archived from the original on 24 January 2013. Retrieved 25 September 2016.
  31. ^ UK dance albums chart peaks:
  32. ^ Scottish compilation albums chart peaks:
  33. ^ UK dance singles chart peaks:
  34. ^ Finnish chart peaks:
    • "Finnish chart peaks" (in Finnish). Sisältää Hitin - Suomen listalevyt (Timo Pennanen). Retrieved 25 September 2016.
  35. ^ Scottish singles chart peaks:
  36. ^ "Leftfield Chart History: Dance Club Songs". Billboard. Retrieved 29 May 2020.

External linksEdit